“Exquisitely detailed illustrations featuring life-like mice distinguish this Cinderella retelling.”
There was once a little mouse whose steprats dubbed her Sootypaws. She does all the chores, leaving them to laze their days away. Despite her predicament, Sootypaws in unfailingly kind to her garden friends. When her steprats sweep off to attend the Prince’s ball, she goes outside and confides in the frog her wish to go to the ball. In a departure from the traditional fairy godmother sequence, Sootypaws’ garden friends repay her kindness to them (with the help of a little moon magic) to fashion her an exquisite gown of rose petals, spider-woven lace, and ant-crafted rosethorn shoes. Catching the prince’s interest at the ball and then fleeing at midnight, when the Prince arrives the next day looking for the owner of the shoe, he recognizes her without having to try it on her (hallelujah!) and asks her to marry him. In the final two pages, Rosie (Sootypaw’s real name) declares that while she loves the Prince, she doesn’t want to marry, but have adventures—so together they kick off their shoes and head off to a life of adventure. This sudden twist to the classic Cinderella ending has a modern vibe, but without even a hint of Rosie’s adventuresome and independent spirit beforehand it feels unfortunately abrupt. The magic of Sootypaws comes from Rudy’s exquisite and unique illustration style. While her mice (and particularly rats!) may be almost too lifelike for the rodent averse, her carefully crafted characters are impressively expressive and each page is full of lush details to appreciate. From the orchestra playing inside a violin body, to the ball taking place on the face of a clock, to the separate picnic of a child mouse and mole under the final banquet table, there’s something new to discover on each new perusal.
What Kind of Book is Sootypaws: A Cinderella Story
Decadent double-page spreads, such as the scene of the prince’s ball, offer opportunities for readers to play an informal seek-and-find game: identifying the classical instruments in the band, counting the number of wigs, or exploring the intricate design of the staircase could occupy a whole sitting. Matter-of-fact text and a plain typeface allow readers to focus on the elaborate images.
Maggie Rudy has been making mice and their worlds for 25 years. Her father was a biologist and her mother and grandmother were artists, so her childhood was full of nature outings and making things. She spent part of her childhood living in England, where she encountered her first felt mice in a Lancaster toyshop, and visited Beatrix Potter’s farm in a formative third-grade field trip.
Her work stars mice and other small woodland creatures, and is firmly grounded in the natural world. She says, “I believe that young children have an innate affinity with nature and it’s my desire to kindle and sustain that connection through humor, appealing characters and detailed,gorgeous pictures”.
After the publication of each book, the completed scenes travel with Maggie to be displayed in bookstore windows, where they are a major attraction with children and their parents.
Maggie works in her home studio in the woods in Portland, Oregon, where her creatures and sets will soon overtake her house.
For Jerry and Lynn Rudy, my favorite parents
Trivia to Know About This Book
I hope they laugh at the silly parts and root for kindness. I hope they spend hours poring over the details, and wondering at the beauty and richness of the natural world.
What Has Maggie Rudy Said About This Book
Nothing yet! You should let Maggie Rudy know that you want to hear from them about their book.
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My illustration style is unique and "squeal-inducing", according to Booklist. To create the pictures I build 3D characters and scenes with salvaged materials, and light and photograph them as miniature stage sets. After the books' publication, the dioramas go on tour of children's bookstores.